Jalapeño Popper Mac & Cheese

$6.98 recipe / $1.16 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.92 from 12 votes
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Can I single handedly undo all of the healthy things I accomplished with the Quinoa and Black Bean Tacos? Challenge accepted. (I know, it’s like I have split food personalities sometimes.) But how can you say no to something like Jalapeño Popper Mac & Cheese?? Once that’s in your head the only way to get it out is to actually make it.

This Jalapeño Popper Mac & Cheese is a super ooey-gooey white cheese mac with spicy jalapeños and zesty green chiles. It whips up really fast and doesn’t require a roux based cheese sauce, which can be tricky for new cooks (or just those new to cheese sauces). It’s super rich, so I estimated a serving to be just a cup. That’s all I needed before the cheese sensors in my brain quieted down and drifted into a satiated slumber.

Take it Up a Notch

You could make it more “popper” like by topping it with some buttered bread crumbs and baking it in the oven, but I’m a little impatient when it comes to mac and cheese and don’t have time to wait around for things to bake, so I left it well enough alone. I also contemplated topping it with bits of crisp bacon, but again that would have delayed my enjoyment of this creamy delight. But those are both tasty options if you’ve got time to spare.

Jalapeño Popper Mac & Cheese

Top view of a bowl of Jalapeno Popper Mac & Cheese

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Jalapeño Popper Mac & Cheese

4.92 from 12 votes
This quick Jalapeño Popper Mac & Cheese is the fastest way to feed your spicy macaroni and cheese cravings! It's ultra creamy, with just the right amount of spicy kick!
Servings 6
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 20 minutes
Total 25 minutes


  • 12 oz. uncooked elbow macaroni* ($1.80)
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil ($0.02)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced ($0.08)
  • 1 cup milk ($0.25)
  • 4 oz. cream cheese ($0.93)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan ($0.42)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream ($0.43)
  • 1 4 oz. can sliced jalapenos ($0.89)
  • 1 4 oz. can diced green chiles (mild) ($0.89)
  • 1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese ($1.25)


  • Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and then add the pasta. Let it continue to boil until it is soft (about 10 minutes).
  • While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce. In a medium sauce pot, cook the garlic in vegetable oil for about 1-2 minutes or just until soft and fragrant. Add the milk, cream cheese, and grated parmesan. Continue to stir and cook over medium heat until the cream cheese is warm and softened. Use a whisk to stir the ingredients together until smooth.
  • Turn the heat down to low and then whisk in the sour cream. Drain the jalapenos and green chiles and then stir into the sauce. Taste the sauce and add 1/4 tsp of salt if needed.
  • When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it in a colander. Return the drained pasta to the pot (heat turned off), pour the sauce over top, and stir until well mixed. Sprinkle the shredded pepper jack over top and then stir in. The heat from the sauce and noodles should be enough to melt the cheese. Serve hot!

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*I used Dreamfield pasta as a feeble attempt to make this not so unhealthy. *eye roll*


Serving: 1ServingCalories: 459.5kcalCarbohydrates: 49.33gProtein: 16.47gFat: 21.97gSodium: 764.92mgFiber: 2.63g
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
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Top view of a bowl of Jalapeno Popper Mac n Cheese

Step By Step Photos

garlic and oil in pot
First get your pasta cooking (I forgot to take a picture of that), then begin the sauce. Saute a clove of minced garlic in vegetable oil over medium heat for about 1-2 minutes or just until it softens a bit.

milk, cream cheese and parmesan added to pot
Then add the milk, cream cheese, and parmesan. Stir and cook this mixture over medium heat until the cream cheese is warm and softened enough to whisk into the milk. Whisk until the mixture is smooth.

sour cream added to pot and whisked in
Then turn the heat down to low and whisk in the sour cream.

one can of jalapenos and one can of green chiles
Drain the liquid from the jalapenos and chiles (my chiles didn’t really have any excess moistures, but if they do, go ahead and drain them). Stir the jalapenos and chiles in the sauce.

chilies added to pot, finished sauce
Then it will look like this. Give it a taste and add a little (1/4 tsp) of salt if needed.

sauce being poured over cooked and drained pasta in pot
When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it in a colander and then return it to the pot with the heat turned off. Pour the sauce on top and stir until combined.

shredded pepper jack added to pot
Lastly, add the shredded pepper jack and stir it in until the heat from the pasta and sauce melts it.

Finished Jalapeno Popper Mac n Cheese in pot
And then it’s as ooey and gooey as it gets! Enjoy (but not too much)!

Bowl of Jalapeno Mac n Cheese

…I think my next recipe better be a big salad. :P

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  1. Looks good!!! I do your extra cheesy mac n cheese recipe. Been making for years. My daughter and friends love it. I think adding bacon to the jalapeño Popper mac would step it up, like a bacon wrapped jalapeño pepper you’d get from a BBQ joint.

  2. Loved it. I took the additional step of adding some bread crumbs and putting it under the broiler, bc I like some crunch on top.

  3. Made this as a date night dinner and it was amazing! Just the right spice level. (I’m a person who can handle a couple splashes of sirrhacha and that’s it) I didn’t have canned jalapenos so I roasted a few fresh at 425 for 15 min then diced, membranes and seeds removed. Probably used twice as much fresh grated parmesan as the recipe called for, as like garlic those measurements are just suggestions. Will definitely be making again!

  4. Hey Beth, this dish was wonderful. I cooked it in culinary arts really loved it.

    1. This macaroni and cheese should be illegal. It’s that good! My husband said it was the bomb.com. I completely agree. The only thing I did differently is I subbed half and half for the milk. The only reason was because we were out of milk. Came out perfect regardless and it heats up beautifully the next day. Definitely a keeper!!